Dr. Robert Musacchio, PhD, is the Senior Vice President of Publishing and Business Services for the American Medical Association (AMA). In this role, Dr. Musacchio is in charge of the AMA’s Department of Database Licensing, which sells access to the AMA Physician Masterfile Database. In 2002, sales of licenses to the American Medical Association’s (AMA) Physician Masterfile generated $20 million in revenue for the organization. By 2007, sales of the AMA Physician Masterfile had reached $40 million per year.

Although the AMA claims information in its Physician Masterfile has been “de-identified,” it is a fact that merging the AMA Physician Masterfile with just one other commercially available database of patient medical info, such as IntelliScript or MedPoint, will cause private patient information to be identifiable.

From Dr. Musacchio directly, here is how the pharmaceutical companies utilize the AMA’s Physician Masterfile database:

“[Pharmaceutical corporations] take our data as well as [data from] several dozen other databases and combine them together with information that they receive from pharmacies, and they put together a picture of physicians’ prescribing habits — by zip code, by specialty, by individual physician — and they use it for their planning and marketing purposesIt benefits physicians in that they receive targeted visits from pharmaceutical reps as opposed to broad visits, so that physicians don’t receive visits concerning therapeutics that they might or might not be interested in. This is not really a patient issue, from our perspective, but I would ask how it would hurt patients if it’s designed to provide physicians with information about therapeutics.”

Indisputably, the American Medical Association, and its Senior Vice President of Publishing and Business Services are aware that patients’ medical information contained in the AMA Physician Masterfile Database is identifiable.

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